Tip 1: Diligently follow a process
While solving an algorithmic problem at a tech interview, make sure to follow all the steps in the Algorithm Design Canvas. Same thing for the System Design Process on system design questions. Sometimes people get excited and forget to do one or more important things.
Tip 2: Ask clarifying questions
It is highly recommended that you never assume stuff at a tech interview. This could be things that are not clear in the problem statements, the programming language to use, or the functions that you have readily available. For example, it could be the case sometimes that the interviewer wants you to implement binary search and not use the one available in the standard library. Keep your mind open for such things and do not assume anything that is unclear. All this does not mean that you have to ask stupid questions all the time. Use your intuition and with some practice you will find your balance and will learn what is important to ask and what not.
Tip 3: Explain your thought process
Interviewers want to see how you think. One of their goals is to figure out if they would feel comfortable sitting next to you each day, working on various problems as a team. If they don’t see that you can express your ideas this may have a negative effect on your interview.
While solving a problem, try to tell the interviewer what thoughts you are going through. Make sure they know where you are. Even when you are stuck, don’t stay quiet for a long time. Tell the other person what is bugging you. This may have at least two positive effects. One is that the interviewer won’t be staying on the side wondering what is going on in your head. The other is that they may actually give you a hint and help you move forward.
Tip 4: Follow the hints from the interviewer
Sometimes interviewers try to direct candidates in the right direction if they are stuck. We’ve seen many instances where the candidate would simply ignore the hints. Don’t do that. Listen carefully to what your interviewer is saying and think well about it. This may help you reach the final goal. It is perfectly fine at an interview to solve a question with the help of the interviewer. This would not reduce your chances of getting the job.
Tip 5: Keep an eye on the clock
Follow the clock if possible and don’t waste too much time on things that are not important. Sometimes candidates waste their time talking about things that are obvious. As we mentioned in a previous tip, you have to explain your thought process but this doesn’t mean to mention every single detail.
Bonus tip: Keep calm and stay positive
Remember that the interviewer ultimately wants to hire you. An interview is an opportunity to meet a cool person, to have a thoughtful conversation about interesting problems, and it’s probably going to lead to your next job. Make sure you treat it like a positive experience.
Sometimes candidates say negative things about themselves or their ideas in case they turn out to be not working. Don’t resort to that. Be positive, when you make a mistake point it out, but with no frustration and continue trying to solve the problem.
Now, let’s look at 5 other things that you absolutely shouldn’t do at the tech interviews.